Pa’s new outdoor recreation plan aims to expand access and opportunities.
Pa’s new outdoor recreation plan aims to expand access and opportunities.
resource header image: Mist hangs over a lake with bright fall foliage reflected on the water from the shore
Newsletter of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
September 30, 2020
Featured in Our Good Natured Blog
A large group of people stand on a trail bridge over a rocky mountain creek.
Outdoor Recreation Should Be Enjoyable and Available to All
Pennsylvania’s newest outdoor recreation plan was finalized in January, but its name, vision, recommendations, and actions were a premonition of things to come.
The Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan 2020-2024: Recreation for All lays out priorities for delivering outdoor recreation programs and services over the next five years.
Driving the priorities and actions of Recreation for All is a vision that, “Enjoyable outdoor recreation is welcoming to all and accessible in every Pennsylvania community.”
At a time when people flocked to the outdoors for their physical and mental wellbeing during the pandemic, the plan provides data that shows there are inequities in how people can access the outdoors and how welcome they feel in these spaces. Read more
A gravel road extends into a forest full of colorful fall foliage.
Additional State Forest Roads Opening for Hunting and Other Outdoor Activities
Hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts heading into Pennsylvania’s state-owned woodlands this autumn will find additional roads open in 18 of the 20 state forest districts.
More than 3,000 miles of state forest roadways will be open during the traditional statewide archery deer season, which opens Saturday, October 3, and closes Saturday, November 14.
“Regardless of whether they seek deer, bear, turkey, or small game, hunters in our state forests will find more than 90 percent of that land now is within one-half mile of an open road,” said Dunn.
With the hunter in mind, DCNR and the Pennsylvania Game Commission continue to update an interactive map of state forestlands and game lands across Pennsylvania. Read more
A park along a wide river with bridges crossing it.
Pennsylvania’s Newest Major Greenway Links Two State Waterways
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined trail supporters and government officials in three counties in announcing official designation of the 85-mile Schuylkill to Susquehanna Greenway as a Statewide Major Greenway.
“This designation of the Statewide Major Greenway elevates the closing of existing gaps and completion of the trail to DCNR’s highest trail-funding priority,” said Dunn. “DCNR views closing priority trail gaps essential, as they form the major ‘arteries’ of the statewide land and water trail network, which confers recreation, health, transportation, economic, tourism, and other benefits to residents throughout the commonwealth.”
Spanning Chester, Lancaster, and Montgomery counties, the state’s newest greenway enables users to travel between the Schuylkill and Susquehanna rivers.
When complete, the greenway will be approximately 85 miles long and link the Circuit Trails Network of Greater Philadelphia to the Susquehanna River. Read more
Christopher Houck stands in front of a stone structure wearing a DCNR uniform.
DCNR Appoints New Manager at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
DCNR announced the appointment of Christopher Houck as manager of Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Cumberland County. He is the former assistant manager at French Creek State Park, Berks County
“From his most recent French Creek assignment in Berks County, he brings a wide range of skills and qualifications that can only enhance the visitor experience at Pine Grove,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
Houck will be heading operations at the 696-acre Pine Grove facility near Gardners, in the mountainous section of southern Cumberland County.
“Pine Grove has all the outdoor recreational activities you would expect, educational opportunities, and a rich history that can still be seen in remnants around the park. And all of this being surrounded by thousands of acres of state forest,” Houck said.
Boaters, swimmers, and anglers are drawn to the park, where the 25-acre Laurel Lake and 1.7- acre Fuller Lake serve as focal points. Read more
Red maple leaves on a tree branch
Pennsylvania Experts Offer Foliage Tips for Residents and Travelers
To celebrate the fall season in Pennsylvania, DCNR experts will be available to serve as regional advisers on fall foliage, offering tips and resources to help residents and visitors experience a colorful autumn in a variety of ways across the commonwealth.
“Throughout the state, our foresters and park personnel look forward to recommending both the best times and locations to glimpse our autumn woodlands in all their splendor,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “With 121 state parks and more than 2.2 million acres of state forestland, Pennsylvanians truly are blessed with an abundance of prime fall-foliage viewing areas.”
Fall foliage typically peaks for several weeks beginning in October across Pennsylvania. Weekly fall foliage reports can be found online on the DCNR website and will be updated every Thursday. Read more
Lydia Martin stands along a rail trail lined with trees and shurbs
Good Natured Pennsylvanians
Lydia Martin is the Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee whose passion for the natural world empowers her to engage diverse audiences to improve land and water resources.
Lydia’s interest in trails and recreation was prompted by an early interest in studying native plants, observing wildlife, and exploring trails in the Pennsylvania woods.
Being a member of the Pa. Trails Advisory Committee allows Lydia to see how the state is working with local municipalities, elected officials, community partners, and trail advocates across Pennsylvania to promote equitable access to trails and recreational opportunities for diverse people.
As a member of the committee, she is part of that process and can share her voice to trail and recreation conversations and positive changes that benefit communities.
“I have had the privilege of learning about new trails firsthand and share in the passion and excitement for the development and expansion of all kinds of trails,” Lydia says. “The Pa. Trails Advisory Committee’s work helps communities and visitors connect through trails and spend more time outdoors. Options abound to explore the more than 12,000 miles of trails in Pennsylvania.”
Lydia represented the committee for the 2020 Ghost Town Trail of the Year nomination and enjoyed visiting the 46-mile rail trail to learn about the history of the area.
“It was a rewarding experience to see the momentum and excitement of the community, municipal and elected officials, and trail volunteers who value trail development and improvements in Cambria and Indiana Counties,” she says.
Lydia is a persistent conservationist, serving as the Green Infrastructure Coordinator for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, as well as serving as a Pennsylvania Master Naturalist.
For dedicating herself to educating the community about sustainability and environmental policy, she was awarded the Penn Future Women of Environmental Education award.
Lydia understands that connecting communities in any environment -- urban, rural, and suburban areas -- is important for health and well-being, and that is where trails play such a valuable role.
Trails and recreation opportunities provide a critical outlet to people who want to bike, hike, walk, picnic, and spend time wildlife watching as a way to relieve tension, manage stress, learn about a region’s natural history, and just have fun alone or with their family and friends.
By getting involved in community trail building and planning, Lydia says trail users can have a voice in influencing decisions that support their community and local municipalities.
“Those decisions could be advocating for a bike rack, mile markers, trail signage in more than one language, or prioritizing invasive plant removal along trail corridors and parking areas,” Lydia says. “To be heard, trail users from all walks of life need to get involved, volunteer, and advocate for changes to be implemented for trails and recreational places that are public assets in communities across Pennsylvania.” 
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact us at to nominate someone.

Also in the News

County map of Pennsylvania
Drought Warning Expands to Three Counties and Drought Watch to 29 Counties
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) moved Clinton and McKean counties to drought warning and added 13 counties to its drought watch.
There are now three counties on drought warning: Clinton, McKean, and Potter. There are now 29 counties on drought watch.
Residents on drought warning are asked to reduce their individual water use 10-15 percent, based on a statewide average of 62 gallons per person per day. This means a reduction of six to nine gallons a day.
“It’s going to take a lot of precipitation to get us out of these deficits over time. We are asking residents in these counties to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
There are many ways to reduce water use around the house and yard, from running water and watering your lawn only if necessary, to checking for household leaks. Find more tips at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sapling trees lined up in black plastic pots at a nursery.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Effort to Plant Trees in Pa. Provides Economic Benefits to Local Companies
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is making sure there will be enough trees to plant millions of them in the coming years; and the effort is paying off for local businesses and streamside buffers in Pennsylvania.
The foundation, which coordinates the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, is spending about $2.6 million for 710,000 trees, shelters, and stakes to supply plantings through 2022.
The partnership is assured to get the variety, quantity, and quality of trees, shrubs, and materials it needs to continue its drive to plant 10 million trees in Pennsylvania by the end of 2025.
Since 2018, cumulative efforts by the foundation, the partnership, and others across Pennsylvania have planted roughly more than 1.74 million trees. The partnership is made up of 147 national, regional, state, and local partners.
“The diverse tree selection is able to siphon off nutrients and hold back sediment,” says Bill Chain, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Agriculture Program Manager in Pennsylvania. “But trees are also pollinators that contribute to wildlife habitat.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation launched the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership in 2018, focused on Pennsylvania’s Clean Water Blueprint goal of planting 95,000 acres of forested buffers by the end of 2025.
A wooded path lined with yellow trees.
Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee Seeking Applicants
Love trails? Consider serving on the Pennsylvania Trails Advisory committee!
DCNR is currently accepting letters of interest for five Trails Advisory Committee appointments representing the following user groups:
  • Snowmobiling
  • People with disabilities
  • Three members at large
The committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to develop a statewide land and water trail network that facilitates recreation, transportation, and healthy lifestyles.
Appointed members will serve a three-year term beginning January 1, 2021.
Interested candidates must submit a cover letter and resume to by Saturday, October 31.
A small line of fire burns a grass field. Text: Conservation Tip
Many folks will be getting ready for fall cleanup on their properties, which can include burning debris.
Pennsylvania is at an increased risk of wildfire in the fall and with the recent dry weather. Before starting any debris burn pile, please be extra careful and follow these tips:
  • Check for local bans or ordinances before your burn.

  • Choose a burn site surrounded by gravel or dirt that has three times the height of the pile for vertical clearance from tree limbs and structures.

  • Keep a shovel close by, the burn site watered down, and your burn piles small and manageable.

  • Make sure burn barrels are metal, in good condition, properly vented, and have a metal top screen.

  • Stay with your fire until it’s out, drown with water, turn over the ashes with a shovel, and repeat
    several times. Check the site regularly over several days to make sure the embers are completely out.
Orange coloed oak leaves. Text: Upcoming Events
Fall has arrived in Pennsylvania state parks, which are a great place to view fall foliage!
Check out these leaf-peeping events to catch a glimpse of the color:
  • Saturday, October 3 -- Fall Foliage Hikes -- Pine Grove Furnace State Park (10:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M.)
  • Saturday, October 3 -- Leaf Peeper Paddle -- Laurel Hill State Park (10:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.)
  • Saturday, October 3 -- Seasonal Signs -- Canoe Creek State Park (10:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.M.)
  • Sunday, October 4 -- Fall Foliage Walk -- Hickory Run State Park (9:00 A.M.)
  • Sunday, October 4 -- Fall Foliage Kayak Tour -- Sinnemahoning State Park (1:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.)
  • Tuesday, October 6 -- Afternoon Autumn Stroll -- Washington Crossing Historic Park (5:00 P.M. - 6:30 P.M.)
  • Saturday, October 10 -- Autumn Leaf Hike -- Pymatuning State Park (10:00 A.M. - 11:30 A.M.)
  • Saturday, October 10 -- Fall Trees Walk and Talk -- Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area (10:00 A.M.)
  • Saturday, October 10 -- Leaf Prints -- Black Moshannon State Park (1:00 P.M. - 1:30 P.M.)
  • Saturday, October 10 -- Fall Foliage Kayak Float -- Moraine State Park (2:00 P.M. - 4:30 P.M.)
  • Saturday, October 10 -- Fall Paddle -- Ricketts Glen State Park (2:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.)
  • Sunday, October 11 -- Fall Hike to the Overlook -- Cowans Gap State Park (3:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.)
Programs will be held under the following conditions:
  • Programs will be restricted to 25 participants or less. Check for registration requirements.
  • Social distancing is required during programs.
  • Participants must have a mask for use when social distancing is not possible.
  • Participants must bring their own hand sanitizer.
Check the DCNR calendar of events for additional events in state parks and forests.

Featured Videos

Like so many rail trails throughout Pennsylvania, the Ghost Town Trail -- Pennsylvania’s 2020 Trail of the Year -- captures the spirit of an industrial past and the promise of a recreational future.

Thousands of walkers, runners, bikers, and winter enthusiasts access and enjoy this trail each year.

See how this 46-mile long rail trail is engaging the communities that it connects.
Fall foliage season is underway in Pennsylvania, and the outlook calls for a vibrant show of colors!
DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry is keeping their eyes on the trees and weather conditions to report the latest color change.

Learn more about the factors that affect the fall foliage season, and what to expect this season.
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